On September 27, President Trump signed a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government for an additional eight weeks beyond the start of fiscal year (FY) 2020 on October 1. This CR, providing level funding, passed the Senate on September 26, following House passage earlier in the month. After a two-week recess, which starts today, Senators plan to resume work on full-year FY 2020 appropriations bills. The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved 10 of 12 appropriations bills. It still has not approved the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, which contains most of The Arc’s priority discretionary programs.
On September 19, the House passed a continuing resolution (H.R.4378) to keep the government funded from the start of fiscal year (FY) 2020 on October 1 through November 21. Meanwhile, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Roy Blunt (R-NY) released a draft of the FY 2020 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill the day before. Most of The Arc’s priority programs receive the same funding level as in FY 2019 in the proposed Senate bill, however some programs receive increases such as Lifespan Respite Care Act (49%) and Special Olympics Education Programs (14%). Funding levels for The Arc’s priority programs can be found here.
Senate funding talks have stalled over disagreements over allocation of funding between the 12 spending bills (known as 302(b)s), funding for Planned Parenthood, and what constitutes a “poison pill rider” (a controversial provision that is unlikely to pass on its own). With only 10 working days to pass a bill before the end of fiscal year (FY) 2019, prospects for a government shutdown or a short-term spending bill are increasing. So far, the Senate has only passed two of its 12 spending bills. With the full-year funding bills at a standstill, Congress will need to pass a short-term spending bill by September 30 to avoid a shutdown. Meanwhile, the House is expected to vote on a bill this week that would fund the government until Nov. 21. If a short-term funding bill is enacted, funding for disability-related programs would remain funded at the levels the received in FY 2019 until another funding bill is enacted.
The Senate Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies is also scheduled to mark up the FY2020 Transportation, Housing & Urban Development bill (or THUD) on Tuesday, September 17, and the full Committee is scheduled to mark up the bill on Thursday, September 19. There are many important programs that impact of the lives of people with disabilities and their families included this bill. For information on how the FY 2020 funding bill could impact Housing Choice Vouchers, see this report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) announced that the House will consider a continuing resolution the week of September 16 to prevent a government shutdown on September 30, the start of fiscal year (FY) 2020. Meanwhile, the Senate will begin marking up its full FY 2020 appropriations bills this week. The Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies bill, which funds most disability-related programs, will be marked up in Subcommittee on September 10 and by the full Committee on September 12. The House has already passed ten of its twelve appropriations bills earlier this summer, but with higher funding levels than those agreed to in the recent budget deal. It is unlikely that Congress will come to an agreement on full-year appropriations bills by September 30. The short-term spending bill is expected to run through late November or early December to allow lawmakers enough time to agree on funding levels.
The House and Senate approved the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019 (H.R.3877) on July 25 and August 1, respectively. This bill prevents scheduled discretionary cuts from taking effect and increases limits on discretionary spending. Additionally, it suspends the debt ceiling until August 1, 2021. The House of Representatives is likely to revisit its previously approved appropriations bills in order to reduce funding to comply with these caps. The Senate has been waiting for a budget deal before drafting its fiscal year (FY) 2020 appropriations bills. The new fiscal year begins on October 1, making it likely that a continuing resolution will be needed.
On July 18, the Administration and Congressional leaders announced an agreement on topline budget numbers for the next two fiscal years as well as to increase the debt ceiling. The deal would avert the scheduled nearly 10% cut in discretionary programs that include housing, employment, education, transportation, and many other disability-related programs for Fiscal Year 2020. As leaders work to identify offsets to cover the costs of this deal, disability advocates are working to ensure that offsets do not come at the expense of other programs that benefit people with disabilities.
On June 19, the House of Representatives approved H.R.2740 with a vote of 226-203. It contained four appropriations bills, including the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies (L-HHS-Ed) bill. The package is not expected to pass the Senate as written due to the cost and controversial policy language. The White House has threatened to veto it.
On May 8, the House Appropriations Committee approved its fiscal year (FY) 2020 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (L-HHS-ED) bill. The bill provides $189.9 billion in funding, a 7% increase over FY 2019. Most of The Arc’s priority programs received increases. Particularly notable increases include the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part B State Grants (8.1%), Lifespan Respite Care Program (33.8%), State Grants to Remove Barriers to Voting (28.7%), and Rehabilitation Services Administration Demonstration and Training Programs (26.5%). Funding levels for The Arc’s priority programs can be found here. Senate Appropriators, meanwhile, have declined to move forward with spending bills until a deal is reached to increase the spending caps for discretionary programs. Absent a deal, the spending cap for all non-defense discretionary programs would be reduced by 9% for FY 2020.
On April 30, the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (L-HHS-ED) approved its funding bill for fiscal year (FY) 2020. The bill provides $189.8 billion in funding, a 7% increase over FY 2019. It includes several increases of interest to the disability community, such as an increase in Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part B funding of $1 billion (8%); $3 billion for Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Grants, $178 million above the fiscal year 2019 enacted level; and $245 million for Family Caregivers Services, an increase of $26 million above the 2019 enacted level. However, detailed line item information for most programs will not be available until May 8 when the full committee mark-up is scheduled to take place. While the House is moving forward with its spending bills, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) said his committee will not markup any bills until a budget deal is reached to raise the spending caps for both defense and non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs. Absent a budget deal, NDD funding (which supports numerous disability programs) is facing a 9% cut in FY 2020.